Taking Pets to Mexico – How to Bring a Dog or Cat to Mexico

Last Updated: May 2, 2022 by
Categories: Driving to Mexico, Pets, Tips

Many people love to travel with their pets. And why not? Your pet is part of your family. For the most part, taking pets to Mexico is easy. Each person is allowed three pets (dogs and/or cats) duty free. Dog and Cat Looking Out Car Window in MexicoIf you have more than three pets per person you may be required to pay a fee for them.

Dogs and cats are the only companion animals Mexico recognizes as pets. So, if you want to travel to Mexico with your dog or cat, you’re in luck.

As of December 16, 2019, Mexico no longer requires a health certificate from a veterinarian for dogs or cats to enter. If you are flying in, note that airline policies may differ. Be sure to check with your airline regarding its requirements and abide by whatever those are.

You need to bring proof of rabies vaccination, as it will be required to enter back into the U.S. if driving (although not often asked for). If flying, you’ll also need it to get into Mexico.

Pet Health Considerations in Mexico

Of course, you’ll want to keep your pet as healthy as possible while in Mexico. Below are some guidelines for keeping your dog or cat in tip top shape.

Food and Water

You are only allowed to bring in enough bulk food for a day, or up to fifty pounds of sealed, unopened bagged food.

Grocery stores carry standard pet food. If you are feeding a premium food, many veterinarian offices carry some of the popular brands. You can also find Petco stores in the larger cities in Mexico.

The other thing you need to think about is drinking water for your pet. Unless the water from the tap is safe for you to drink, it should not be considered safe for your pet. If you are drinking exclusively bottled or purified water, that is what you should be giving your dog or cat as well.

Vaccines

Vaccine recommendations for your pet can vary by location. Mexico is a low-risk country for rabies in dogs and cats, but the rabies vaccine is still required. Also treat your pets for fleas and ticks. Ehrlichia (a tick-borne disease) is found in dogs in Mexico.

It is also recommended that your dog(s) be vaccinated against Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza, as those diseases are found throughout the country.

Cats should be vaccinated for Feline panleukopenia (Distemper), Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Leukemia.

Depending upon where you live, you may or may not routinely treat your pets for heartworms, but it is advised for those bringing pets to Mexico. While heartworms aren’t found everywhere in Mexico, unless you know a local vet that can advise you as to its prevalence in the area you’re going to, it is better safe than sorry.

Driving to Mexico with Your Dog or Cat

If you are driving into Mexico, you are supposed to visit the nearest Mexican Animal and Plant Health Inspection Office (OISA) office upon entering the country. Contact the official personnel working with the National Service of Health, Food Safety, and Food Quality (SENASICA) to have your pet(s) inspected. OISA locations can be found here.

Fisherman and dogs in tidal pool in Rocky Point, MexicoEven though this is the regulation, very few people stop, and this is not enforced. The occasional person that does stop for an inspection is usually met with bemused surprise by the inspectors.

If you are intent on having your pet inspected upon driving in, you will want to find one of the offices labeled “FRONTERA” (border) in the “SITIO” (place) column of the table found in the link above. You will have to hunt them down, as these offices are not conveniently located. The agents you see at the border crossing are Aduanas (customs) and are not the agricultural inspectors and will have no interest in your pets.

Assuming you skip the inspection, there is not much else you need to do with regards to your pet dog or cat upon arrival. Except, your pet must be under your control while in Mexico.

Note that if you are going to an area that requires a TIP (Temporary Import Permit), pets are not allowed in the buildings. If it’s hot, you’ll need to plan ahead in order to keep your pet safe in your vehicle. We took the locking fob off our keychain and kept the car running, with the air conditioning on, leaving the dogs inside, and the car locked. Or, if possible, one person can remain in the vehicle with the pet(s).

Flying to Mexico With Your Dog or Cat

If you are flying to Mexico with your pet, there are a few more details you need to know. Since Mexico no longer requires a health certificate for dogs or cats coming from the United States or Canada, some airlines are no longer requiring this for pets that are going to be flying in the cabin with you. However, most Mexican airlines are still requiring the certificate.

U.S. airlines are no longer required to recognize ESAs (Emotional Support Animals). ESAs are now considered pets and must conform to the airline requirements for animals in the cabin. The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued new regulations for service animals in December 2020. It appears most Mexican airlines are still allowing them with a note from a psychiatrist (NOT a psychologist).

When you land in Mexico with your pet, you will be directed to the OISA office for your pet’s inspection. They will want to see a rabies vaccine certificate and will look for evidence of fleas and/or ticks. Be prepared to show that your pet has been treated for these parasites or you may be required to wait for a vet to come and administer the treatment for you.

Finding Pet Friendly Lodging in Mexico

Finding pet friendly lodging in Mexico is not that hard. Many hotels allow pets. There are web sites, such as BringFido.com that list pet friendly hotel. Or, a simple Google search for “pet friendly hotels” in the area you’ll be visiting will return many options. Always call and confirm with the property that they will accept your pet, as sometimes the internet listing is mistaken, or all their pet rooms are taken.

Wrapping It Up

All in all, Mexico makes traveling or living there with your pet easy and straightforward. By paying attention to a few details, you and your dog(s) or cat(s) should have an enjoyable adventure exploring the wonders of Mexico. Here’s a summary of our tips for taking your pets into Mexico.

What’s Required: